Who Can Suffer From PTSD?

Photo of person with PTSD Symptoms | Counseling for Trauma & PTSD Treatment | Foundations Family Therapy | Raleigh, NC 27606

In the US around 8 million people are suffering from PTSD. Though it’s a disorder commonly associated with veterans, PTSD can affect people from all walks of life. Here are a few things everyone should know.

Understanding PTSD and what causes it?

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder. It usually appears when a person deals with a traumatic experience. Many times PTSD will appear in the case of war veterans and those who’ve experienced military combat.

Combat veterans can be easily triggered by elements such as loud noises and fireworks commonly associated with summer. But, it’s important to remember PTSD does not discriminate. It’s not a disorder reserved only for
our veterans. There are many other types of traumatic experiences that can
lead to PTSD.

More commonly, victims of sexual assault, trauma, violence, disasters, cancer, life-threatening illnesses, and physical abuse can also develop symptoms of PTSD.

Watch Out For Symptoms

As with any disorder, each person can experience PTSD differently. Some of the common symptoms of the disorder come post-trauma in the form of flashbacks, event recollections and even nightmares. Those who suffer can have difficulty sleeping, feel detached and emotionally numb, and avoid various places, people, and things that might remind them of their trauma.

A Journey To Wholeness

Trauma can become fragmented inside of the brain, leaving the brain susceptible to “triggers” and reactions. Trauma therapy can help the brain
put the pieces together in a meaningful way that allows for healing. You can learn to understand and identify triggers and form different responses to them.

You can learn to replace your fearful and negative thoughts with positive ones. You can work through the trauma and allow your brain to reconnect the pieces into a whole story that can be processed and then rewritten. You can move forward with a sense of purpose and hopefulness for the future, and you can ease your fears and worries and learn to trust again.

We’re here to help!

The Positive Side of Unpleasant Experiences

Anxious Teenager | Anxiety Treatment | | Foundations Family Therapy | Raleigh, NC 27606

Why is it that some people seem to be able to weather difficult storms in life with strength while others shut down at the mere thought of disappointment?

It all boils down to personal resilience and your ability to adapt. The good news is resilience is learned.

You can learn new ways to respond to your own thoughts and feelings when unpleasant experiences arise. Though we can’t always control life’s challenges and setbacks, we can control the way they make us feel.

Life’s Difficulties Help Us Gain Perspective

Your vacation cruise was canceled because of a hurricane …
You’ve been searching for a new job for months now with no success…
You lost a loved one this year…

All of these difficulties, whether small or big, are about personal perception. For example, if you perceive a difficult situation as threatening, you might lose your ability to face it. This can lead to an endless cycle of negativity and avoidance. In stead of adapting and building your inner strength, you continue to shut down. However, if you change your prospective, you can develop coping abilities and work toward peace, happiness, and resolution.

Setbacks Can Make Us Stronger

There are many opportunities to develop resilience daily in our lives. Setbacks force us to weather the storm or come up with another plan. This type of adaptation helps us grow. It helps strengthen our resilience. Even the little unpleasant experiences in life like spilled coffee, running late, or
locking your keys in the car can help build resilience and strength.

Challenges Expand Our Emotional Capacity.

Compassion, love, empathy, pain, disappointment, and grief are just a few emotions that arise from unpleasant experiences. Pain gives us a great insight on self knowledge and awareness. These challenges help us strengthen our mental and emotional wellness.

We can’t avoid pain, setbacks, depression, anxiety, and unpleasant experiences in life. But, we can work on ways to overcome them. Ways to welcome happiness and build inner strength. We can learn to treat ourselves with kindness.

If you’d like to learn more about ways to alleviate depression and manage anxiety, learn more about our upcoming Freedom From Anxiety & Depression Weekend Intensive.


Trauma-Sensitive Yoga: A Journey To Healing

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of yoga. It’s a great way to strengthen your mind and body.   It’s a spiritual and physical discipline with Indian roots that date back centuries before our time. There’s a lot of mainstream buzz surrounding the healthy benefits of yoga. But, there’s a lesser known purpose you might not know about. 

Now, there’s growing evidence that aspects of yoga can be used to promote healing for individuals with trauma. As a trauma professional, this exciting and promising news is life changing.

Trauma is a generic and broad word. So, let’s get more specific about the type of trauma that’s often healed by trauma informed yoga. 

Research and professional experience indicates that Individuals with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), developmental trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may all benefit from trauma informed yoga.

The specific benefits include helping clients regain comfort in their bodies, counteract rumination—re-thinking the same thoughts repeatedly which can quickly increase anxiety and deepen depression and help improve self-regulation—one’s ability to manage emotions effectively.

We’ve all heard the stories of people displaying superhuman strength in the face of physical adversity; lifting a car off someone trapped below or treading water for hours or days until help arrives. This ability is because of the brain’s ability to respond immediately to threatening situations with a surge of stress hormones. We call it fight or flight mode, but few folks know about the brain’s third optional response mode of freeze. 

In describing the freeze response, Peter Levine uses the example of a cheetah stalking an impala.  When the cheetah catches its prey, the impala falls to the ground and plays dead to protect himself.  The numbness will lessen the pain or terror that would normally follow even if its killed. 

Fight, flight and freeze are all normal responses to extreme threat.  It becomes a problem when responses persist in the body after the danger has passed.  Bessel van der Kolk, a pioneer in the field of trauma, describes trauma as “hijacking the body.”  The body, along with the mind, remains in a state of high alert (fight or flight) or under-arousal (freeze). Trauma takes a heavy toll on the body—the body absorbs and anticipates trauma making the individual more likely to be hyper-alert, hyper-aroused and unable to calm themselves.

How does this relate to trauma informed yoga? 

Through trauma informed yoga, the body is given the opportunity to let go of the need to fight, flee or freeze. This is taught by learning to release tension, reduce fear, and tolerate body sensation. Trauma informed yoga helps you learn to calm your mind and calm your physical responses too, and, in turn, your emotions.

Furthermore, it can help you regain a feeling of safety inside your own body. At first glance, trauma informed yoga looks a lot like traditional yoga. But, once you begin the class, the differences become apparent. 

Trauma informed yoga does not focus on poses, or breathing. It’s about letting the body feel what it feels, without judgement and with a developing knowledge that it is safe in this place and safe within your own body.

I’m beginning a trauma informed yoga class on Thursday, October 5th from 10 to 11 am. 

There are two requirements to attend the class; you have a trauma history, and you are currently active in therapy addressing your trauma. If you fall into both of those categories, I’d love to have you join us on Friday mornings at 10 am. 

If you read this post and think, “this describes me but I’m not in therapy,” please give us a call! We have several trauma therapists available to meet with you individually. 

I look forward to you joining us as we work toward establishing a safe place in class and, most importantly, within your body.

Sharon Sheppard

A Five-Step Guide to Healing Emotional Trauma

If you’ve experienced an extremely stressful or disturbing event that’s left you feeling hopeless and emotionally unstable, you may have been traumatized. Emotional trauma can leave you struggling with difficult emotions, memories, flashbacks and anxiety that won’t go away. Trauma can also leave you feeling numb and disconnected from others. It’s not something you can just “get over”. Healing from emotional trauma is a process. Luckily, there are things you can do to speed up your recovery.

Step One: Reestablish a Routine

After a traumatic event, getting back to a routine can help speed up the healing process. There’s comfort in the familiar. Even if your professional routine is disrupted from the trauma, try to establish a new normal with things like eating, sleeping and spending time with others who support you.

Step Two: Get Moving

Physical activity has many proven health benefits. It can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and memory loss. Exercise works as an instant mood boost which is essential when recovering from trauma. Burn off adrenaline and release endorphins that lead to healthy, holistic healing. This is why we offer yoga at our Trauma Center in Raleigh specifically designed for healing trauma.

Step Three: Stay Connected

Healthy relationships, group activities, and social events are beneficial to those healing from trauma. The most important thing is NOT to isolate. You might fell unsure about others. Some emotional trauma sufferers are unable to trust others. Support and open communication are essential in healing.

Step Four: Eat Right

Food is fuel for your body. Your thoughts and feelings can be affected by what you eat. The gut-brain connection is an essential part of overall wellness. Your gut and brain are connected through millions of nerves. Fermented foods (like yogurt) and Omega-3 fats are great choices to help ensure your gut-brain connection runs smoothly.

Step Five: Join a Support Group

You don’t have to suffer alone. Our Trauma Center in Raleigh, NC, offers specific support and healing for those who suffer from trauma. Work with a professional who can help you heal. Our team can help you gain freedom from your struggles.

Learn more about our Trauma Recovery Center and the programs available for holistic healing.

How Yoga Helps Heal Trauma

When people think of trauma, they think of something that happened some time ago. The truth is, trauma is something that settles and continues to grow within when left untreated. If you’ve been traumatized, it’s likely you have a complicated relationship with your body and emotions. Yoga can help restore your relationship with your body, emotions and inner self. Here’s how yoga’s therapeutic and restorative benefits can help start the healing process.

Yoga helps you develop a loving relationship with your body. Yoga is really about developing a deeper sense of oneself. When used to treat trauma, it can help some regain control of their bodies. Its stretching and stabilizing motions help build strength both physically and mentally. As your body becomes strong, so does your inner strength. Many people are able to emerge from tragedy and life a fulfilling life because of yoga.

Our Foundations Center for Trauma Recovery offers holistic wrap-around services like yoga for trauma as part of the healing process. Yoga is a tool you can use to deal with emotional scars. It creates a heightened sense of body awareness, embodiment, and empowerment. These are powerful outcomes for trauma survivors! It’s important to remember that trauma-sensitive yoga is different from other types of yoga because it puts an emphasis on making people feel safe while giving them choices about how to execute their poses and control their bodies.

We’re taking sign ups for our August 2018 groups of yoga-sensitive trauma. If you are someone you know is interested, contact Sharon at 919-285-4802 today for more information.

Summer Program: Overcome Depression, Anxiety, and Stress!

Foundations Family Therapy is excited to roll out this 8 week program that can help overcome depression, anxiety, and stress and teach you new ways to respond to your thoughts and feelings. This exclusive program is limited to 10 participants and BCBS & Aetna insurance plans are accepted and billed for participants. You can sign up by contacting Sharon at (919) 285-4802 (x703) for $25/session or $175 paid in full.

Learn more about natural and holistic approaches that will help you live in the present. Practicing mindfulness has many positive benefits that can help you enjoy a more rewarding and fulfilling life. Instead of dwelling in the past or future, you’ll learn how to focus on the present.

Our 8 week program will also help participants develop techniques that build resilience to help better cope with unpleasant experiences in life. You’ll learn how to treat yourself with kindness and respond to your own thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. These are just a few benefits of this wonderful program! Make this summer the summer of positive change by putting your mental health first.